Fugitive Bulgarian mogul dubbed "the Skull" sets up political party

By bne IntelliNews January 4, 2021

Fugitive Bulgarian gambling mogul Vassil Bozhkov said on January 4 he has set up a political party and intends to run in the next general election, which is due to be called in March this year.

Bozhkov, dubbed Cherepa (“The Skull”), has become an active campaigner against the Bulgarian government since the end of May 2020 after being charged on several counts, including extortion and attempted bribery. 

“Political party Civic Platform Bulgarian Summer was set up. We are the power,” Bozhkov wrote on Twitter. He also said that “the time for justice is coming”, pledging justice for all.

Bozhkov announced plans to launch his political project in June 2020 but few expected that the notorious businessman would actually enter politics.

He was charged in 2020 after prosecutors raided his offices and houses and confiscated luxury cars, as well as a significant collection of artefacts that were stored in his private museum.

Bozhkov claims he was persecuted by the prosecution after declining to provide a majority stake in his gambling business to a company picked by former finance minister Vladislav Goranov. The gambling mogul claimed that Goranov and Prime Minister Boyko Borissov demanded 20% of his profit and in return pushed for legislative changes that made it easier for his gambling business to operate.

According to Bozhkov, after he declined to hand over the stake, the ruling coalition changed the law, banning lottery games operated by private companies.

After he was charged, Bozhkov started criticising Borissov and openly accusing him and Goranov of taking significant bribes in return for shielding his gambling business.

Bozhkov’s Bulgarian Summer is the latest of several new political formations that have emerged in Bulgaria and are hoping to gain seats in the parliament after the general election. 

Among them, popular showman Slavi Trifonov’s party, There is Such People, is very likely to become a significant factor in the next parliament. The Democratic Bulgaria coalition has raised its popularity and profile after its members started revealing top-level corrupt schemes. Former ombudsman Maya Manolova launched Rise.bg, while protest leaders the Poisonous Trio indicated that they might also launch a political project.

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